Aspen Times launches updates, improvements to commenting tool for online articles
After months of work, The Aspen Times is launching a new, more robust commenting section on online articles that you will see starting Friday morning.
We have had this update planned for a while, and the current level of engagement on aspentimes.com during this rapidly changing environment because of the coronavirus pandemic makes this an even more opportune time to help facilitate and foster a respectful community dialogue.
With more advanced moderation tools, we hope to cultivate quality dialogue that adheres to the three tenets of our commenting policy: start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
Our new platform offers features aimed at increasing reader engagement by giving users the ability to follow news topics and reporters and the option to receive alerts when fellow commenters weigh in on an article.
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Readers also will notice a change in access to commenting. Gone is the need to have a Facebook account to post a comment under an article. Now, people can interact with our news stories using their email account or any of their social media profiles, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
This new platform should make the commenting experience more user-friendly, but equally as important, is the promise it holds to create a more constructive space for public dialogue.
Moderating comments requires time and resources, and that’s where our new commenting platform can help. Viafoura, our platform provider, uses artificial intelligence to assist with moderation, which means, over time, the system will begin learning our guidelines and moderation behavior, making the process of sorting through comments more automated and giving moderators more time to highlight the best conversations rather than refereeing the worst.
Our new commenting platform also allows us to enforce bans of varying lengths and automatically informs individuals as to why their commenting behavior violated our standards and required a ban.
Our IT team has exhausted all resources trying to find a way to keep the old comments on the articles, but the Facebook comments will be disabled and go away when we launch. We thought about this and researched it thoroughly. We’ve never come across a website with old comments on the page from an old system.
It’s normal to see bugs after a launch, but we have 99% of these already squashed. For more details on the inner workings of the new system, a breakdown of the new features and how to sign up, go to aspentimes.com/commenting.
If you see something odd, please let me know. I can be reached at dkrause@ aspentimes.com and 970-429-9120 or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. There also is a Help function within the platform.
This new platform will help foster dialogue that we want to remain civil. In the past, we have worked to monitor conversations and relied on readers to let us know when they see something offensive or uncivil. We want that to continue and be even more effective and advance that spirit of respectful conversation and community.
David Krause is the editor of The Aspen Times.
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